Virginia emcee Tiff the Gift released her debut solo album Cool, Calm, Chill in 2010, She followed that up in 2014 with her sophomore project, Better to Give. After a two and a half year wait Tiff has returned with her third album released by Don’t Sleep Records titled “It Gets Greater Later.”
It Gets Greater Later is produced by Phoniks, JR Swiftz, LinkRust, F. Draper, Kalvion, and Kameleon Beats. The album features appearances by Rodney “The Soul Singer” Stith, Dephlow, and Tiff’s husband and emcee, Awon.
Tiff the Gift spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about the importance of growth and acceptance in her life, the creative dynamic between herself and Awon, and her new album, It Gets Greater Later.
TRHH: Explain the title of the album, It Gets Greater Later.
Tiff the Gift: It’s basically a statement that I’ve always said since my early years in high school. Me and my mother would talk and when I’d be in a bad mood or things wouldn’t go exactly the way I wanted them to go she would always say, “It gets greater later.” I lost her not too long ago so I wanted to find some way to tie her to the album and that’s just kind of how I tied it.
TRHH: How is this album different from Better to Give?
Tiff the Gift: It Gets Greater Later shows growth. I’ve had a lot of things that I’ve gone through. I mean, it’s a natural growth process over the years since I dropped Better to Give up to now. I’ve learned a lot of different things. I picked a variety of production and I tried to expand my audience. Trust me, I love the listeners that I already have but I want to reach out to different demographics and people who have different ears so I wanted a mixture of production on this one. That’s the major difference. Growth is always big for me so you’ll see a lot of that on this album.
TRHH: Is the growth lyrically as well as musically?
Tiff the Gift: Just all around growth. They say experience is the best teacher and I feel like I’ve had experiences that have allowed me to grow, whether they’ve been musically or in my personal life, all of that comes out in the music anyway. I have a big thing about authenticity so when I saw “growth” I mean all around growth.
TRHH: Tell me about the song Passed Out.
Tiff the Gift: That was the first single off the album. It’s a song that was dedicated to my mom. I don’t think I’ve dealt with everything upfront as soon as it happened. One day I was in a different place and I kept trying to force myself to write a song that was dedicated to my mom. For an artist that’s the natural thing to do but it just didn’t come. For some off reason it just didn’t come and a year later that song came about. I just started thinking about everything. Even though the song may seem kind of dark it’s actually a point in my life where I came to the realization of a lot of different things. It’s acceptance, so for me that was super powerful because that was a turning point in my life.
TRHH: Would you say acceptance has trickled down into other aspects of your life? Would you say learning how to accept things has helped you with other things?
Tiff the Gift: Oh, absolutely. That whole situation changed the way I felt. I’ve always been a super strong person, but we all go through things in life where we have some sort of ignorance about something. I think the biggest thing about me that I can say I got over is the lack of ignorance and thinking that you can change everything. Sometimes things happen and you don’t have control and you have no choice but to be faced with acceptance. That’s what that taught me in every aspect of my life. Even with the kids, sometimes you can be super overbearing not realizing that these kids are gonna be who they’re gonna be. You can help guide or give advice, but certain things in life we just don’t have control over. It made my faith a lot stronger, that’s what I mean about acceptance.
TRHH: On the song “Same Old Tree” you have a line where you say, “I don’t even like rap.” Do you really not like rap? Can you explain that lyric?
Tiff the Gift: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s a very good question. It’s crazy that you asked that. I was talking to one of my best friends, Kaveen, he’s like a big influence over everything that I do musically. He calls me a part-time rapper because I’ve always worked full-time and went to school. He was like, “Yo Tiff, if you actually went hard and put 100% into it you could go further than you can imagine.” That line was kind of for him.
TRHH: I hear that kind of thing from a lot of rappers. I read an interview years ago with Rhymefest and he was saying how he was a janitor at a school and someone took a crap all over the wall or something and he quit that day and has been making money off of rap ever since. His point was that you have to give 100%…
Tiff the Gift: [Laughs] Yeah, you have to.
TRHH: Do you feel like you’re at that stage now?
Tiff the Gift: Yes, yes. That was what the whole line was for. That has so many meanings to it, not only the going hard part. I love the questions you’re asking because they’re outside of the norm. People always ask me in interviews what motivates me when I write and it’s funny ‘cause I never listen to rap to get me motivated or hyped to write a rhyme – I never do it. I’m a big soul head and a big R&B head. I actually listen to slow music. I’m kind of soft on the low. I’m a rapper, I’m not supposed to be [laughs]. That’s what I gravitated to from being around my parents they loved music and kept it around me. That’s what they played and we couldn’t touch their radio.
TRHH: Is there any current soul music that you’re listening to?
Tiff the Gift: Man, you kinda put me on the spot. I don’t think it’s soul but it is kind of R&B, she’s from northern Virginia, Kali Uchis.
TRHH: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. She’s from South America somewhere.
Tiff the Gift: Yeah, but I think she moved to like northern Virginia or something. I love listening to her sound. I can vibe out and relate. She did it real different in my opinion.
TRHH: Yeah, she’s dope.
Tiff the Gift: What They Say is one of my favorite songs. A collab with her would be dope.
TRHH: That would be dope! You should try to do that. How does being married to another emcee help or hurt you when coming up with lyrics?
Tiff the Gift: [Laughs] I’m an extremely competitive person. I don’t think I could have married anybody that was not an emcee, not musically inclined, or somebody that didn’t challenge me. It’s a very competitive household. The worst thing to hear is, “Your husband is so much doper than you,” and on his end he don’t wanna hear that his wife is so much doper than him. We wanna hear that we’re both dope, so we go at it [laughs]. We argue over beats, we argue over a lot of different things. It’s just a creative household. The energy is awesome. I can say that music has truly kept us together for this long. When you can sit down with your partner and they can tell you??? What you don’t want is a yes man. No artist has a whole plethora of great music [laughs]. Something they did was terrible and he stopped me from a lot of terrible things like, “Nah that sucks, babe. Don’t do that.” The feeling is mutual and he doesn’t let it ride. I don’t let it ride either.
TRHH: Do you ever get sensitive about stuff like that? Like for me, I make beats. I’m not that good [laughs]. But I’m learning and I sent a lot of beats to a lot of rappers and nobody is really feeling them.
Tiff the Gift: [Laughs].
TRHH: Hey, it is what it is. I went from the stage of having my feelings hurt to, “Okay, how do I fix this?” and “How do I get better?” Was there initial hurt feelings if he called your work wack?
Tiff the Gift: I’m going to give you some background and try to make it as short as possible. I was raised in a house full of truth. When I lost my mother I lost my best friend. A lot of people throw that out there, but people who know me know how close my mother and I were – my father as well. I have a real tight bond with my parents. Still to this day my dad is my strength. I’m a Taurus so I was a hard head. My feelings would get hurt easily and I was very defensive. My mother told me one day, “Step back. Why are you so angry at your father about his criticisms? You’re listening more to the way he said something and you’re worried more about your emotions than you are about what he’s saying.” Over time you learn. So I guess the answer to that is I don’t really get defensive anymore because I’m an adult and I’ve learned that’s part of the growth process.
You can’t really pay attention to how somebody is saying something or how you feel about something. You have to listen to what it is they’re saying and the meaning behind it because if he didn’t give a damn then he wouldn’t say anything. A lot of times when people give you that criticism they save you from standing in front of thousands of people and embarrassing yourself. So it’s not really about how somebody says something or my feelings, it’s about what kind of message they’re trying to send and is it going to be beneficial for me. In one line I said, “My daddy is a stoic too, I guess that it’s inherited.” My daddy always said, “Baby girl, you gotta put your emotions to the side sometimes and make sure that you make conscious decisions. Because emotional decisions will put you in a bad position every time.” You can’t get better if you don’t take that criticism and if you don’t move on from how you feel.
TRHH: What inspired the single “Somebody”?
Tiff the Gift: [Laughs] Me and my homegirls have conversations all the time about relationships. They come to me about relationships or whatever. Sometimes I share with them what I’ve learned in marriage and things like that. Sometimes they even teach me things because I’m kind of outside of the single life at this point of my life. Somebody is about sometimes relationships are to be taken very seriously and sometimes they just are what they are. Loyalty is important, fidelity is important, but sometimes you just need somebody. Sometimes it’s not about tomorrow, next year, or your future, sometimes you just need somebody. And you can’t worry about what other people say. “Some men and their attempts and their intentions be boring me/Pretentious in a sense, and even more and importantly/Your opinion ain’t offensive, I’ve been mentioned historically.” So right now it’s okay for me. I’m not worried about what anybody says, I’m going with the feelings that I have right now. Not that I trust you or anything, but the “somebody” that you need sometimes is not that serious.
TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with It Gets Greater Later?
Tiff the Gift: I hope to expand the listener base. I hope that the people that are already listening can get a good grasp of who I am and who I’ve become over time and the fact that I’ve been working for them. I’ve been working for the listener. I recorded my first and second album within a week’s time. With this album I kind of just took my time and I wanted to make sure that first I reached out to everybody that I knew in some way, shape, form, or fashion so they could feel the energy that came from that record. And then I wanted to make sure that I could reach out to the masses. I wanted to have at least a couple of tracks on there that you can feel whole heartedly and say, “I understand, I can relate.” It’s simplicity but it’s complex.
Purchase: Tiff the Gift – It Gets Greater Later